Crunchy, buttery, sweet, and satisfying, Caramel Corn has it all. This nostalgic candy treat is loved by young and old and is an easy treat to make up for any occasion. You can also give some as a gift at any time of the year! Who doesn’t love popcorn?
Want more popcorn treats? Try our healthy savory popcorn with this Olive Oil Popcorn (Garlic and Rosemary) recipe or our sweet and satisfying Peanut Butter Popcorn or a combination of both with our Homemade Chex Mix with Caramel Corn.
When standing at the popcorn stand in the mall, which one do you pick? Buttered popcorn, cheese, Caramel Corn, or another flavor?
Well, for me, I love a good buttered popcorn, but I save that for the theater. Cheese corn is great, too, but I can get that in a bag. The one I adore is Caramel Corn, and probably the one we make most if we are making one from scratch. Popcorn is addictive with that sweet caramel; you can’t just have one HANDFUL!!!
What is in Caramel Corn?
Homemade caramel corn is easy to make, knowing a few tips and tricks ahead of time. See our Pro Tips below!! The ingredients just have to be of great quality and freshness. Don’t try to use old kernels, old cream of tartar, or baking soda; you will end up with subpar results. I like to serve popcorn at gatherings; it is a great make-ahead dish and something that everyone loves. People get excited about seeing homemade popcorn.
For the popcorn, I always use Orville Redenbacher. I get the most success with it and have very few unpopped kernels at the end, plus big fluffy popcorn.
I used a disposable turkey roaster pan to make the caramel corn recipe.
Plain Popped Popcorn – use good quality popcorn. A scant 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels should get you close to 14 cups, depending on the brand.
Butter – use good butter, as this is an essential ingredient.
Brown Sugar, brown and light – you can use just one type of brown sugar or a combination of both.
Light Corn Syrup – it really does make the best caramel popcorn.
Salt – table salt works well.
Vanilla Extract – use the good stuff, not artificial vanilla extract; this is optional.
Baking Soda – fresh baking soda will give you the best caramel.
Cream of Tartar – helps to stop the caramel from crystallizing.
How to Make Caramel Corn?
Making homemade caramel popcorn is not hard but does take some time to make sure that you coat all of the popcorn and that it is crunchy and not chewy. This is done in a slow oven for about an hour. Let’s dig in!!
Making the Caramel
Preheat oven to 225F. Spray a large roasting pan with cooking spray.
Place popped popcorn in the roasting pan.
Salt the popcorn.
In a large saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and cream of tartar to a boil, stirring constantly.
Let boil for 5 min. on medium heat without stirring.
Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda.
Coating and Baking
Pour over the popcorn and stir to coat.
Place the pan in the oven.
Stir every 15 min. so that the mixture does not burn. Bake for 1 hour. Stir well at the end.
Remove from the pan and let cool completely on parchment paper. Store in Ziploc bags or sealed containers. Yum!!
We make caramel corn all the time. Well, actually, Ken makes it, he is really good and patient with hot, gooey candy, and he did an amazing job with this popcorn!!!
Recipe Pro Tips!
Use caution when working with hot caramel sauce! It burns your skin easily!
- Also, take caution not to burn your caramel.
- After you add the baking soda, the mixture will foam up, don’t use a tiny saucepan.
- You may use a large sheet pan to bake with instead of the roaster pan. Using the roaster pan is much easier to stir the popcorn due to the high sides.
- I recommend using plain popcorn, but you can use microwave popcorn, too; just make sure it is lightly salted. If using a different type of popcorn, you may need to adjust the butter and salt amounts.
- Using corn syrup will help to make sure the caramel doesn’t crystalize and turn grainy.
- Baking at a lower temperature helps thin the caramel and attaches to each popcorn bite; this also crisps it up and helps to keep it fresher longer.
- Stays fresh for up to 2 weeks and stored in an airtight container on the counter. After the first week, it may not be as crunchy, but still good to eat!
What is the Difference Between Kettle Corn and Caramel Corn?
Unlike regular popcorn, kettle corn is cooked with sugar and can be salted too. The sugar, when heated, melts and coats the popping kernels making the popcorn sweet, and then the salt is added after so you get sweet and salty. Kettle corn has a thinner coating on popcorn than caramel corn. It is made in large cast iron vessels at country fairs. Kettle corn can be made with both white and brown sugar. Using brown sugar gives it more flavor, tasting like caramel corn.
Caramel corn is made by combining sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a pot over low heat, and as you see in the above recipe, it is then baked in a low oven to completely coat the popcorn.
- 14 cups popped popcorn, a scant 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels should get you close to 14 cups, depending on the brand
- Table salt
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup brown sugar (light and dark if wanted)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup of light corn syrup
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- Preheat oven to 225F. Spray a large roasting pan with cooking spray.
- Place popped popcorn in the roasting pan.
- Salt the popcorn.
- In a large saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and cream of tartar to a boil, stirring constantly.
- Let boil for 5 min. on medium heat without stirring.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda.
- Pour over the popcorn and stir to coat.
- Place the pan in the oven.
- Stir every 15 min. so that the mixture does not burn. Bake for 1 hour. Stir well at the end.
- Remove from the pan and let cool completely on parchment paper. Store in Ziploc bags or sealed containers. Yum!!
See the post for important tips and tricks when dealing with hot caramel.
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Katbite 15in x 242ft, 300 Sq.Ft Unbleached Parchment Paper Roll for Baking, Parchment Baking Paper with Serrated Cutter, Non-stick Longer Parchment Roll for Cooking, Air Fryer, Steaming, Bread
Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn Kernels, Original Yellow, 8 Lb
Glad Oval Roaster Pans, 2ct | 2 Count Foil Roasting Pans | Foil Baking Pan Disposable | Oval Aluminum Pan for Baking, Roasting, Reheating | Heavy Duty Disposable Roasting Pans
Nutrition Information:Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 187Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 210mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 22gProtein: 1g
Recipe calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is estimation only. If you need nutritional calculations for medical reasons, please use a source that you trust.